AT&T-Discovery Merger Will Create Higher Prices and a Tsunami of TV-MA-Rated Programming

Written by PTC | Published May 17, 2021

LOS ANGELES (May 17, 2021) – The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) weighed in on the corporate merger announcement which would combine AT&T’s media assets with Discovery Communications.

“The consolidation of media ownership isn’t just continuing, it is accelerating at a rocket-like pace. And along with it, our concerns for a safe and sound entertainment media environment for children are rapidly accelerating. We fear that the combination of mostly-family-friendly Discovery with increasingly-toxic HBO will put more children and more families at a greater risk of harm,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

“If we use Netflix as a barometer, we can anticipate a tsunami of new MA-rated streaming content as this combined media juggernaut charts its competitive course. HBO already promotes programming that sexually-exploits children, promotes illicit drug use, and contains the harshest of profanity and graphic violence. And this newly-combined SVOD service provider will inevitably result in the type of cable-like programming bundle that we have warned about for years. The result will have consumers being forced to buy streaming network programming they don’t want in order to get the streaming network programming that they do want, and they will be forced to pay more in the process. Consumers, meet the new boss, the same as the old boss.

“Parents choosing streaming services take content into consideration, along with costs and whether the services have robust parental controls. Our recent study of the top streaming services found that most streaming services do not offer stringent parental controls.

“In order to secure regulatory clearance, it is likely that the economic impact to consumers may force some conditions to the combined AT&T-Discovery entity. But if Disney can buy the studio, library, and cable assets of Fox, we suspect approval of this acquisition is mostly perfunctory.”

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